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Best Of: Top 10 Live Shows Of 2011

posted January 1, 2012, 7:04 pm by Ben Oliver | Filed Under Editorial, General Interest, Live Show Reviews | comment Leave a Comment

Tags: Incubus, Awolnation, Off!, Foster The People, Curren$y

First post of the new year! Ok, ok so it’s 2012 and you are probably tired of seeing best of lists already. Well we worked hard on this list and hope you dig it anyway. We have 3 of our correspondents, including myself, who are avid concert goers compile this list. And like most, we begin by struggling to come up with 10 then by the end actually have way more and struggle to narrow it down to only 10! It was so hard to choose, between us this year we have seen Blink-182, Cloud Nothings, Fleet Foxes, Death From Above 1979, Curren$y, Social Distortion, Kurt Vile, Seether, A Day To Remember, Ghostland Observatory, Reptar, Cold War KidsBig K.R.I.T., Neon Indian, The Flaming Lips, Slayer, Modest MouseAsher Roth, and way more. So here are our picks for the Top 10 Live Shows Of 2011!

Carina’s picks (photos and video courtesy of Carina Contreras)

1. Bonnaroo Music Festival: Being up front in the pit for The Black Keys, Eminem and Arcade Fire made the 14+ bus ride to Tennessee worth it. Matt and Kim probably had one of the best sets at the show.
Festival Highlights: Florence + the Machine, Wiz Khalifa, Bassnectar, Band of Skulls, Explosions in the Sky, Robyn

2. Florence + the Machine @ Central Park SummerStage and The Creators Project: I saw Florence + the Machine 7 times in 2011 and it is too difficult to break down which was particularly my favorite. I was lucky enough to meet Florence Welch backstage at the SummerStage show. It was no ordinary meet and greet. My friend and her mom, as well as myself, hung out with Welch for at least 40 minutes talking about various subjects such as tattoos, ‘Eastbound and Down’ and Jon Hamm. At the Creators Project, Florence + the Machine premiered new songs from ‘Ceremonials’ under the Manhattan bridge in Brooklyn.

3. Bush @ Bowery Ballroom: Originally I bought these tickets for the simple nostalgic factor. Bowery Ballroom only holds about 550 people, so this was probably the smallest venue they were playing this tour. First off, Bush has a really dedicated fan base. I spoke to fans who have seen Bush perform close to 100 times! Wow! This was one of the sweatiest concerts I have been too. Gavin’s sweat dropped into my eye.

4. Foster the People @ Brooklyn Photo Studio: Imagine seeing Foster the People in a tiny loft that has no stage. Right before ‘Torches’ came out, Foster the People tweeted about the intimate event, which would start at midnight. I immediately signed up. They played their full album. With only two songs released, Mark Foster and Co certainly knew how to rock the crowd. Nonstop dancing!

5. The Naked and Famous @ Pianos: This happened to be my birthday and on a drunk whim, I stumbled over to the bar/venue, Pianos. They opened for the Foals earlier in the night and decided to put on a full show at midnight. Great intimate performance and a 14 song set list!

6. Mumford and Sons @ PC Richards Theater: Mumford and Sons were already selling out 3000+ capacity venues. I was fortunate to win a contest into a more intimate setting with only about 250 people. The set was short, but the banter between the band members was priceless.

7. Cloud Cult @ Maxwell’s: I wish more people were into Cloud Cult. First of all, they paint on a spinning easel on stage! They rarely tour – and their latest album might be one of the top albums I have heard ever.

8. Matt and Kim @ Altman Building (as well as Bonnaroo): You are guaranteed a great time at a Matt and Kim show. Windows was hosting an intimate event in NYC to promote their new phones and Matt and Kim were the musical guest. I have seen them perform at Bonnaroo and was excited to see them again. As always, they put on an energetic performance.. standing on their drum kit and interacting with the crowd.

9. Givers @ Ace Hotel for CMJ: Sadly, the set was very short, it made me want more. Hands down the best show I saw during CMJ this year. It was a light, comical, and an impressive performance. Expect great things from them in 2012.

10. LMFAO with Swizz Beatz @ Pier 36: Yes – the famous Party Rockers made my list. I originally went to the event for the free vodka, but came out rather impressed! LMFAO really know how to get a crowd going. I will admit, I know all their radio played songs (They are hard to miss right?), and I sang along… The break dancers on stage and costume changes made me understand their appeal. Swizz Beatz was another additive bonus. He sang the ‘Ruff Ryders Anthem’… enough said.

Almost made the cut: Lykke Li @ MTV Unplugged (very hard to not include), K.Flay, Phantogram with Exitmusic, Wye Oak with Caveman, Eliza Doolittle with Emily Grenne, Ellie Goulding.

Mark’s picks (photos and video courtesy of Mark Ambrose, Michelle Pelissero, and Caleb Dickerson)

Although this was only a half-year for me and concerts, I am looking forward to an even bigger and better 2012. My goal for this year is to reach at least 20 shows (at least 2 per month) and a minimum of 10 artist reviews/live show reviews and maybe an interview or two. 2011 was definitely a great year for up and coming musicians and bands and 2012 is looking to be just as good if not better. Happy New Year to all and remember to keep rockin’!

Here are my Top 10 Shows for 2011 (in no particular order):

Fair To Midland/Dead Letter Circus – Granada Theater – Dallas, TX – 12/23

Young The Giant Unplugged: Windows Mobile Event – F.I.G. – Dallas, TX – 11/16

The Naked and Famous – Granada Theater – Dallas, TX – 10/20

AWOLNation – ACL 2011 – Austin, TX – 9/18

Gorilla vs Bear Festival – Granada Theater – Dallas, TX – 7/23

Girl Talk – Granada Theater – Dallas, TX – 6/28

Rock of Allegiance Tour feat. Buckcherry/Papa Roach – Verizon Theater – Dallas, TX – 8-24

Sublime with Rome/311 – Gexa Energy Pavilion – Dallas, TX – 8/13

The Joy Formidable – Fun Fun Fun Fest 6 – Austin, TX – 11/4-11/6

Public Enemy – Fun Fun Fun Fest 6 – Austin, TX – 11/4-11/6

Ben’s picks


My first time seeing them was at a sold out show at The Prophet Bar in Dallas in August. The energy was intense, especially for this size of a venue. The crowd was fun and rowdy, and there was plenty of moshing, stage diving, and crowd surfing.

2. Weezer

Their performance in Frisco, TX during 102.1 The Edge’s Edgefest in April was nothing less than phenomenal! In reality they stole the show from the headliner Jane’s Addiction, and this could have easily been my #1 pick. All ages were into it, and the energy was amazing.

3. Warpaint

This is a group of all hot chicks from Los Angeles that I discovered while researching SXSW. I was completely blown away by their sold out show in the intimate setting of The Loft in April. Their live performance was simply stunning and magical, almost hypnotizing.

4. Phantogram (photo by Katie Covens)

This sold out show was also at The Loft, in November, with Reptar providing opening support. I liked Phantogram and was expecting a good show, but they completely blew my expectations away! Maybe it’s the way that Sarah and Josh work together, maybe it’s the strobe lights…either way, it was mesmerizing.

5. Toro Y Moi/Unknown Mortal Orchestra/Bass Drum Of Death

This lineup was destined to produce a sold out show at Club Dada. At the last minute, which was just a few hours before the show, the venue decided to move the performance outside. The weather was near perfect, and the combination of the location and lineup made for one of the most memorable shows of the year.

6. Foster The People/Gardens & Villa

This sold out show at The Loft was a highly anticipated one, and didn’t disappoint. It was my first time being introduced to Gardens & Villa, and it was great seeing both bands together. Will probably be the last time that Foster ever plays a venue this small. This was my 2nd time to see them, the first was at SXSW, which we also have video of.

7. Jane’s Addiction

Many who watched the group headline at Edgefest in Frisco were disappointed, especially after seeing Weezer play first. To me it was still a highlight, even though they didn’t play “Jane Says”. They had great chemistry, and even had dancers hanging from the rafters.

8. Coheed & Cambria

What a great time to catch this band in April at the Palladium Ballroom. They performed an entire acoustic set first, took a short break, then came back out to play another full set normally. They are great live, if there was any doubt.

9. Incubus/Young The Giant

Incubus is one of my favorite bands, and this was the 3rd time I watched them, in September outside at Gexa Energy Pavilion. Young the Giant were a great opening band, yet the stormy weather was so awfully bad Incubus almost didn’t get to perform.

10. Off!

My first chance to see the legendary Keith Morris of  Black Flag and Circle Jerks fame, who is 56. This was the first hardcore punk show that I’ve ever been to, and I won’t ever be the same! They played for about 40 minutes and the most, and most songs were under 2 and 1/2 minutes long. They moshing and stage diving was impressive!

Honorable Mentions: Could almost just have easily included the following shows in my list: Givers, Trash Talk, Portugal.The Man, Naked and Famous, Dirty Heads, Peter Bjorn & John, Yelawolf, Rittz, Death From Above 1979, Public Enemy, St. Vincent, Odd Future.


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